17 March | Rooftop Philosophy in Phnom Penh #8

On Saturday I’ll be here hosting the #8 edition of ‘Rooftop Philosophy in Phnom Penh.’ Where time has literally stopped. Expect the unexpected, and come see. More info at our website, see ‘Upcomings’. This time I’ll kick things off with what the bright physicist HL told me, about holography, time and space being one thing, and the three levels of intelligence in civilizations. Wish she could join us but good thing I took notes. ✨🗒

Rooftop Philosophy, Phnom Penh 2016-7

Making more and better S P A C E

It has been four years since we began publishing our eZine, S P A C E. Which runs the gamut of topics relating to creating new, and better space, mostly the kinds that foster interpersonal dialogues that progress in a meaningful way. That doesn’t have to mean lifetime friendship, or anything. Just… It has to be real. Space for new thinking. New perspectives. New journeys, collaborations and friendships. New, though. New matters. New is where we push the edge, try new things, and grow. Meet me in S P A C E? Let’s play.

A song for Jean Rhys, a letter from Rilke

FIVE OF US. Wrote a poem together.

And I’m going to send it to just the five of us, and that’s it.

It’s called A Song for Jean Rhys.

Jean Rhys inspired the work, in a big way, of hosting The Mirror.

Writing needn’t be about mass producing, or selling, or convincing, or debunking. Sometimes, writing can just be about sharing. Making a quiet space, and letting that be enough. Enough. Letting things slow and experiencing this here, this now, is enough… What if that could be a philosophy?

Asia for five years now. You let go a little bit of the old programmes. I know I’ve written that somewhere before, but it isn’t a bad thing to underscore it. Letting go of the programmes. To see, finally, when we can make space, to be together for a time, to listen and to share, that’s neat. That’s being here, being here now. Some people who have mentored me have shown me the ways to try to include the quiet spaces in my everyday, and indeed, to let them take the center stage. Stillness. Quieting. I’m living next to temples. I’m learning to stay the journeys now, without abruptly quitting a person, time, or place. But… Selectively. The small poem is ‘A Song for Jean Rhys.’ It isn’t for sharing here, but there, in our closed circle, where things have gone from small and simple maybe things to wow, this is good, this is right things. Is this intimacy?… is this beauty? Is this the whole thing of Art?

SOME DISTANT DAY. Big questions, but we don’t have to resolve anything. Rilke said, to the young poet, don’t ask so many questions, but let yourself live your way toward the answers… Of course he said it better, but it’s past midnight and the scrap of paper I had written it on is, oh, no, wait! I typed it! In Cameron Highlands! Here… Indexed, searched…  found:

Be patient toward all that is unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves… Do not… seek the answers, which cannot be given to you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.’ —Rilke’s letters to a young poet

The Mirror Section B

Forget what ‘they’ say.

THE MIRROR is for helping you discover and listen to you. You don’t need anyone else to spell it out, but here it is: no one is going to regret it more if you don’t do the work than you. Did you read that article that went viral, a while ago?  ‘Top 5 Regrets of the Dying’? >

DK’s online workshop for 2018 is THE MIRROR. The unique reflection workshop THE MIRROR will give you a chance to discover your way to fresh, revealing insights. On you: the inner motivations that are moving you towards your goals, your dreams, and your heart’s desires. We are accepting new guests on a rolling admissions basis through the end of March.

WHO SHOULD APPLY. If you are questioning the goals and methods that you have or are using, then THE MIRROR is ideal for you to re-evaluate and confirm your personal values are aligned with what you are doing and making at work.

  • If you are in a period of limbo,
  • if you are in transition,
  • if you have just come out of something or are about to head into a new phase, THE MIRROR is a good programme.
  • if you have been through some difficulty or a change,
  • or something has pushed you to question your own goals, vision, mission and values, then THE MIRROR is an excellent tool.

SCHEDULE. Posts will be sent weekly. Each week’s is designed to be complete-able within 20 minutes. These are sequenced to help you discover with clarity the pop that makes you very much you, and only you. You will be invited to share also in selected pages of our concurrent conversations going on in very small circles in Design Kompany’s protected-page forums.

A few testimonials from guests of DK’s online programmes…

  • ‘Thank you for the opportunity.’ —Anonymous
  • ‘It’s a unique project and it’s pretty special. If you’ve been looking for some structure or accountability in your writing—and supportive community in very small groups, this could be for you… a compassionate leader… offers some accessible assignments that are helping to shift my writing lens. I love it.’ —MH
  • ‘Warmly recommend it.’ –SG
  • ‘[This] motivated me more to do what I wanna really do and kick some a**… Thank you, DK!’ —JH

JOIN THE MIRROR. You’ll need to apply, then to register: Apply. Choose an 8-week or 12-week option. Late registration fee is USD $160-200. Selected applicants will be invited to register.

S P A C E || Breakfasting

‘THAT WAS GREAT.’

‘It was.’

‘It’s good that we can still talk. A good conversation!’

‘It is. It was.’

‘About so many kinds of things! It keeps it new. I like that.’

‘I do, too.’

‘I think… I think that what’s really interesting is when you can have the old things and the new things, together.’

‘…’

‘I was talking about this the other day, when I was telling you I had such a great conversation jam? That was really fun, and you know, there are more things to talk about, all the time, as we go, because the talking towards some kind of discovery, even with the limitation of language as that is there, you know Niels Bohr said—‘

‘Who you love to quote.’

‘Who I love to quote! Who I love!, and yeah, he said, “We are suspended in words.”‘

‘…’

‘I think that S P A C E and writing like this is about suspension.’

‘…’

‘Everybody thinks they want stuff to be grounded, you know. Clear. Crazy clear and understandable, the bullet-point list. The one-pager. But… We also like to curiously float off sometimes, too. No one admits this out loud! I mean you can’t. It’s crazy talk.’

‘Yeah.’

‘But what you said, earlier, and last night, and everything. That was good. That was helpful. Informative.’

‘That was! Thanks.’

‘So we’re not fighting now.’

‘No.’

‘I like that we could skip over all the stuff we used to do, like sit around and process all the line-by-line stuff. I think I was just tired. And sick. I’ve been so sick. And all these papers, everywhere. And yeah. I’ve got to make a whole batch of zines, S P A C E || Malaysia has Ipoh, Cameron, Melaka, Penang, and Kuala Lumpur… And I’m only two-fifths done… And…’

‘Productivity isn’t the point.’

‘No.’

‘The journey is.’

‘Yes. But that is so… Philosophical and everything. But it is. The journey.’

‘…’

‘So, where’s next?’

Join us in S P A C E for more conversations. This month, we are giving away to new subscribers a PDF copy of Dipika Kohli’s book, Breakfast in Cambodia (Kismuth Books // 2016). It’s also available here.

S P A C E || Sonic elements and Conic sections

‘NO, BUT I COULDN’T do that. it would intrude on the intimacy of the space.’

‘But if you recorded it! Then there would be… A sonic element. Which is so easy to do, now.’

*acknowledging*

‘But okay.’

***

 

‘SO WHAT’S UP with this Section thing?’

‘Hm?’

‘Section B, you said. For the thing that is coming up next.’

Mirror Section B. Yes. This mirror I found, metaphorically—‘

‘What/??’

‘Nothing like just… Bear with me kay?’ I found this metaphorical kind of conceptual not-there but there-there, aura-seque, is that a word?’

*shrugs*

‘…through writing and reflecting, I was doing the assignments too you know, as we went along, and well, you know, it is so easy to sit around and think when there are a circle of people there is something you have to do about it, make something happen, but the whole thing about S P A C E is that it’s really self-selecting, a kind of… New way. For curious people who want to try new things, together. not very different, when I think about it, from everything that has been truly fun, engaging, and exciting about the things I was part of helping make in the past. Like a newspaper, in southwest Ireland… With M! My, gosh. That was a great party! And it, I think… I think it still is? Going, I mean? Fair play to M, like.’

‘Ireland?? Huh?… But anyway… But what about this section thing?’

‘Oh! We had a great response to this, see, in January. I had no idea. Honestly. What would happen. I never got such a volume of applications before, and so, well, sometimes things are just about timing, as __, who doesn’t like to be called out publicly, I know, I remember, but yeah, who pointed out, and it’s not about you or them or whatever, but just… Timing….. And so there is a new section, see, get it, the mirror I found, for me, that one, for me, I mean, is kind of oval. And so, you know. Elliptical. A conic section. See? Section?’

*groan*

‘What? You don’t like that?’

‘No!’

KE would. In fact, KE would really dig this graphic I’m gonna pair it up with, this conversation… Let me go get that now…’

5/100. This is part of a series, 100 conversations.Hosted and created in real life and with real people, and just because. Just for fun. Writing it down, or I guess, writing it up. Up! See? Up. In S P A C E. Join us.

 

 

S P A C E || Scraps and gems

THIS IS THE POST where I talk about the things that are hard to put into discrete bullet points, and that will not easily snap into some template that Spells Out Everything.

Like some of the early writings that had appeared here in the 2000s, I’m just going to talk to you without aiming at a spiffy conclusion. Like NB said once, ‘We are suspended in words.’ Inadequate as it is, here. Let me try to say a thing. If there is resonance, then that’s as good a thing as I can hope for.

SEARCH, QUERY. THIS BLOG is a response, in part, to the ongoing dialogues with the people right near me, and the new ones who have emerged from the aether of real life and laid out What I Am Missing. These things are part of being on the road. The blunt honest responses to things that are murky, that are unclear, that are esoteric, that are apart from the usual consumptions of what we intake, day to day, whether we are participant in the decision to swallow the so-called news wholesale, or not. (The buzzwords here are critical thinking, and resistance to the status quo, and innovation, and other things I don’t know but can imagine are trending in fancy-pants offices in high rises in the big cities of the world.) Which blips of the narrative are scraps, and which are gems? That is up to each of us, isn’t it, to determine.

To show up and ask questions is not popular.

To keep doing this and investigate towards the next thing that feels right (to you), is not mainstream. But, so? Now that DK are warbling about in the fourth dimension, it’s okay to ditch those old frames of thinking. The ones that say ‘Home is __.’ Or, ‘You should ___, and ___, and definitely ___. And you better do it before you’re forty, or else.’

The programmes today we intake, about beauty power success et al, are shaped by the obsession of social media scrolls, all over the place you see it… people on trains, buses, in their dinner jackets, with their phones glued to their hands. Locked in an endless, streaming stream of illusions of what beauty and power and status and food look like. (Maybe if you want to buy a lot of products, bags, clothes, shoes, items that make you feel smart, or important, or gadgets that make you feel connected, that’s your choice. But loneliness is big, with this consumption stuff.) Bangkok. Kuala Lumpur. Singapore. Am seeing it every day, the hard cold fact that More is not landing people where they thought it would. That the pictures they, hey wait, I and they, once held fast to are disappearing in our hands, like that photograph in ‘Back to the Future’ that Marty had in his hand, at the concert, when it was looking dubious he would get back to the Eighties.

SOCIETY OF THE SPECTACLE. But now, Now is a fading photo. Hijacking real life are the online spaces. Where there is ‘ambient community,’ and a sense of place. Sometimes, sure. But not always, and not enduringly, at least not in my experiences, so far. On the road or in one spot, doesn’t matter. You will have to eventually request the time, the space, to look and really see. Who do you ask this to? Yourself, of course. Distractions are there but it’s us who have to cut them out. Editing. Disconnection for connection. Which means selectivity. Which means knowing who, where, when, and how to show up for, not always the same answers, of course. Time, distance, and our pasts and emerging present change how we think about what’s important, what’s frivolous. Scraps can morph into gems, and vice versa. Love can burn us. We can die in any instant. There is no certain future. All this is uncomfortable for those of us who believed in the Programme that says just follow the rules, connect the dots, 1-2-3, there you go, and voila. You get a trophy…but… Did you really? And if you did, who cared about it?

Did you?

Did you win?

If yes, what?

Hard questions.

Readings from S P A C E

A POPUP CONVERSATION salon, with snippets from our 2014-2017 highlights from the ezine, S P A C E. We will be hosting this in real life at a venue in Penang to be shared with registered guests only. Free with RSVP. To RSVP, contact DK through the form here.

Interstitial space

ONCE UPON A TIME, a very smart person wrote a thing about my art. I guess that was the thing that threw me off. ‘Art.’ It was weird, because I thought I was an engineer-architect-journalist-designer. But I was making things that someone with a real eye, experience, and like I said, brains, didn’t say wasn’t art. LW. (Thanks, if you see this.) What happened was this. AM suggested it. ‘There’s this person. She’s looking at people’s art. She’s gonna write it all up, a review. You should do it.’

‘Says it’s for “artists”. Or whatever.’

‘You’re an artist. How many times… Just. Go.’

Unconvinced and commitment-averse, I sat on that idea. No, it’s not for me. I’m a designer. I’m working. I’m not… Painting canvases. I’m…

But I did go.

Unannounced, with all the best ‘art,’ or whatever, that I had made, ‘best’, in my opinion, up until that point. Stuff from Kyoto, New York, Seattle. Stuff from way before. Stuff I just hit ‘print’ on. Word stuff, drawing stuff, comic stuff, sharpie stuff. A lot of stuff. I couldn’t know then which stuff to keep, and which to get rid of, because I didn’t know the ‘what this is’ thing, not clearly, not yet. Maybe she could look at it.

Blind luck: there was a cancellation. Or a no-show. What a missed opportunity for that guy. ‘Dipika… Kohli?’ ‘Hi.’ Let’s see what you got. Were we mutually asking? I think so. I still remember the moment that felt, within that scene, which was also pivotal, to be the one that switched us on to one another. A certain piece. A certain exchange of looks. A certain ‘getting’ of one another, right there. When a piece makes a person feel a thing, a thing that the person already has an inkling about in nonverbal ways somewhere within, floating around, but just hasn’t… Tuned into… Then the piece is relating to them. That relating is the art.

Oh.

But that awareness would not come until 2017. Maybe a twinge came when I met MT? A glimmer… A hint. Yes, certainly there was an echo there. I think I even said ‘interstitial space.’ I think my plastic name tag was poking at a skewed angle. Talking geometry. Talking about space. But it was well received, and added to. That was why it was so exciting.

 

!*

THAT’S KIND OF how it (it?) started. It? Everything, really. Work became project-making. Maybe it was art? I read about things that kids in art schools in foreign countries told me to google. I looked up words I didn’t know and found, through deeper and deeper investigations in that shallower and shallower place that is the Net, little gems.

But the review thing. Some people want to get their work in museums, have shows, travel and be seen. I don’t care about being seen, really. I care about about the art itself. And yeah. The relating, to me, is art. A thing doesn’t mean anything if no one is there to receive it. Et cetera. So yup. Everything from that moment changed everything I do now. It wouldn’t have even happened had it not been for curator BMC. Also important. The people who shake things up, right? You see them when you look back, on the long path. In the West it’s all about ‘me me me’ and glorification of a person and equating ‘success’ with material wealth. Not always, but often, I feel, in the East when it’s really good, that’s because it’s a collaboration, the beautiful things… There’s less of the ‘look at me! Look what I did!’ vibe. Now I have to talk about George Webber. No, no. I’ll save that for the S P A C E crowd. Anyway. Changing from West to East (2014-present, I’m Asia-based) has meant appreciating the people who helped me make the things we’ve made, since arriving in Cambodia, to reset all the buttons.

WORDS. I watched. The review. Being written. ‘Hey, that’s kinda cool.’ Next few years, I read it over and over, until the penny dropped (that’s an Irishism for ‘it sank in’). This: she had called it, like tarot cards. This thing. That I like to do. Show the process. Include new voices. Close-ups. Relationships, aesthetics… that are there when people connect, convene in new ways… She looked through my zines, papers, (I always have papers), my oversized black portfolio I got because you needed that, right? To be legit? (No. You needed a concept to be legit. That would take time. Practice. Faltering. Bracing. Returning to the next place, sticking the foot out, going again, letting go of the people who said, ‘What are you doing? Get a job!’, and trusting the process.) What design taught me was to not get too complacent with the first or 17th idea. Push to the edge. Then, go past. Out there is the interstitial. Out there is S P A C E. A very specific kind of space. (Writing about it. A checklist. Sharing in small circles.)

WORK. I think she saw me trying, in my immature-yet way, to poke a hole in that materialistic veneer that is so supersaturated… So not-critiqued, so upheld as ‘that’s just how it is’ mumbo-jumbo status-quo. I was doing things to provoke some response, maybe. Drawing kooky Sharpie comics. Blogging a lot. Too much, really. I didn’t want to stop, it was like a habit, but then the blog got deleted kind of accidentally and it’s a long story, but it was so amazing because the feeling wasn’t one of sadness or loss, but of… Relief. Now we can finally start something new. Ten years of a blog is a long time. Ten years of trying to keep saying the same stuff in interesting ways is boring. I don’t even know what we were doing there. Yup. I am saying that. I am. Saying it all. Honestly. Nope. I’m not a super-duper-well-put together kind of a person. My friend IK said, ‘Twitter is for the smart people. Instagram is for the beautiful people.’ That was… Insightful. Spot on. What if you don’t hang out in those ways? You just want to, like, chill? I learned when switching from East Coast to West Coast in those United States of (North) America, one thing: you don’t have to wear a suit. Or nice shoes. Forget New York Black and ‘a Manhattan minute.’ You can go around in a hoodie and some old jeans. You could be dressed like that, slumped in the corner of Joe Bar Cafe, and you could be a millionaire, or a scruffy writer, same thing over there. Seattle. Which is where DK started up as an official thing. That would be 2004. Does history matter? Why am I telling you this? Och. Another Irishism.

SHAPE OF SPACE. BECAUSE IF THERE IS ONE THING I learned from the last couple of years that I took away and kept in my most intimate drawers for revisiting, it’s the idea of ‘provenance.’ How have you held a thing, where has it been, who used it, where did it get shared. This is a hard thing to measure. Impossible, really. That same hoodie scenario… I still have this hoodie. I wear it all over the place because the buses are cold and the trains are colder. Oh. I’m on the road. (This is part of the reason I am blogging so many paragraphs.) There are no obligations other than to host The Mirror, certain ateliers here and there, and to dream up the next thing. Whatever it is going to be, it has to have meaning. And I find meaning in a couple of things, things that  knows, but few others, because I shared those ideas when they were just starting to become visible… A sea of abstract ideas… And then, some emergence. I’m here, though, to listen, to field queries, and to show up for whatever comes to be. I am learning how, a little bit, once more. The road teaches you things. That’s what I’ve discovered, anyway. It’s important to share, sometimes, too, the little lessons. Blogging is  kind of ambient way of sharing. I was getting bored of it because I didn’t know… How to… Share better. I guess, though, I got a lot of practice. You write, and you write, and you write some more, and you get a wireless keyboard and then you type some books into your little devices and press ‘publish, make this a PDF, go!’, and say, ‘Do you want to read this?’ And wait and see if relating happens. Sometimes, when you’re lucky, it does.

NEXT. ATELIER S P A C E || MELAKA. Zinemaking. With new and different others, in real life. It’s happening, and I’m jazzed. Popping up at the weekend. This one is gonna be low-key. By invitation-only, no buzz, no noise. Very fitting, this style, for Melaka. I’ve been here more than a week, gorgeous architecture, world heritage site. Yet I’ve just been walking around, getting my bearings, trying to connect with the place before photographing it. So I’ve only taken one picture. That’s this one. I hope you like it. —DK

In one hour

THIS IS HAPPENING. It really, really is. Four years of cojournaling. Two calls for interest in Januarys past. One short eBook anthology. And now, a small handful of people in timezones scattered who are saying ‘yes’ to the experiment and conversation that is this thing we made, together. Welcoming very warmly both new and returning guests to this year’s The Mirror. More is on the way, check your inbox. It’s exciting, isn’t it? This is my dashboard. Like it? More

On the eve of something new

TOMORROW WE START. A new chapter for The Mirror, an online conversation that doubles as a workshop. This year is The Mirror‘s fourth.

In creating our invite list, I’ve been reconnecting with people around the world, these last few days, rekindling old ties and fostering a few new ones. Not everyone, of course. But a few. A few is good. A few is all you need.

We started it in 2014 as an experiment: if we could write with people we didn’t know, could that open space to a new kind of learning? What would happen? In the short compilation that came forth from that year, this was how we descibed the trepidation: ‘… 2014, a small group of people agreed to give me a shot at helping them make space to write more this year. It was unconventional and experimental, exactly what you have to be a little bit of a chance-taker to try, because I was making it all up from scratch. Thanks to their trust in us to create and hold space for writing, and especially for writing together, we were able to connect through words.’ Four years later, I’ve been musing on the changes, shifts. I love the beginning of a thing: a book, a new friendship, a fresh place. But now, I’m learning to appreciate the early-middle. Things brew. Become a little familiar. This is nice, very nice, too. We just finished our registration. Half our guests for The Mirror are returning participants. I am so excited! And I feel lucky, and bewildered, and delighted, as if the party of my life is about to start… In a way it is like a party, my favorite people from real life conversing in virtual rooms, over the coming weeks. The goal is interlink them, meaningfully, not trivially, with this more formed, but not fully formed (and thank goodness for that), version of The Mirror.

Like a four year-old, The Mirror now has grown up a little, and has a will of its own. Inquires, questions, accepts new input, want to discover, test the boundaries, and most of all, play. DK is all about that, if you know us personally or if you worked with us in the past. Let’s look at this in a new way? Let’s consider another perspective? Let’s not pin this down too soon, because we are still learning, still trying things, still letting it be what it wants to become. Along the way in any period of development, though, you see the heart of the thing that is emerging. With a child, their personality comes through clearer and stronger at four, right? They assert a little later, but they kind of have the general sketch and outline of the personality. We are there, with The Mirror, too. Wonderful things to look forward to, but also, extremely cool this evening as we are setting up for tomorrow, to notice the elegant part, that when you do pin down a creative idea it’s time to focus on giving it the kind of attention it needs to really flourish. At this stage, a wide mix of voices and stories, a gathering of people in virtual space, people from around the world who opt to apply and try something new, is what The Mirror is overjoyed about. I like the Englishism, ‘mates,’ as in, ‘I was with me mates.’ That’s the feeling. The Mirror can’t wait to play.

It’s almost time.

A new, more sophisticated, but also fun, what would it be without fun?, version is about to start. And guiding that, without knowing for sure how it will play out, but needing to trust and learning to trust that it will, is our work, here. Spacemaking. For new and different others to find remarkable connexion. We took a chance, we planted a seed. That thing germinated, it began to grow. It would have been so easy to not try, not even bother planting it. To make an excuse, to busy ourselves with ourselves. But the light and the water and the air, the things you used to cultivate that seed, were the beginning, as it flourished, the little buds weren’t just things to mind, but rather, they were part of a new section of yourself. They, slowly you realized it, they grew you.

Let’s go discover. Let’s go see.

Welcome to The Mirror.

Let’s play?

S P A C E || The travel bug

I THINK we have it. A theme. For our next zinemaking popup, Atelier S P A C E || Kuala Kumpur. Travel. Transit hub that it is, it makes a great setting for the kinds of meandering that wanderers love. Let’s talk travel, new places, showing up, taking chances, favorite music, best of’s, and more. And let’s do it in real life, with our phones turned off, in a box. Yes? Hit us up for details. Or check out this page.

S P A C E || ‘Good Night, Day!’

Writing in S P A C E

THE WRITING IS GOING ALL RIGHT. Here, behind the scenes, we are turning yearslong collected writings and bits into things that are actually in some way processed, thought through, organized, and well-presented. I think this is called publishing. And that’s why we are working on it with Kismuth Books. Lots of room and space, to reflect, to look at the arc of where the stories that left the warmest impressions were, and how they got there. Not that there is a thing to ‘figure out,’ per se. It’s quite nice to just let the things be what they are slowly, in an ukiyo-e way, bubbling up and surfacing to be. Does it make sense?

DISCOVER THE MIRROR. IN 2014, I got this weird idea to write with other people. Some of them friends, some of them acquaintances, and many of them people I didn’t know. Internet friends? I guess. It became interesting very recently, as we have been iterating quite a lot since then. Now, THE MIRROR is a robust tool and we are sharing it out again starting 8 January, with a handful of people who are the right fit. I continue to do this because I love cojournaling; it gives us the opportunity to build a global tribe of people who are also asking questions, and curious about life. A few brave cojournalers who signed up for our very first experiment (January 2014) had NO idea what to expect. It was definitely an exercise in trust. And design, of course. We’ve tweaked it, tested it, added things, deleted things, and tried the whole thing out. It’s less clunky now, 4 years into it.

We use email. But it’s not just mail. It’s someone’s trust in you, and me, and us. It’s sharing. It’s this thing I kept going on about last year, “the village.” It’s about connecting, in a way that’s meaningful and deep and not someone paying for a therapist’s time or someone reading a book once and forgetting about it after that. It’s not a workshop off in the mountains, though those are fantastic, or a class that is going to help you set up everything to write a bestseller. It’s not any of those things. It’s just, simply, space. And it’s working. I can’t believe how the people who’ve just newly met are sharing their very personal thoughts, even in these early days. People are telling me they’re so happy to have time to just “free write,” without much of an agenda, and that they appreciate someone is listening (that would be the groups, and also me), holding them accountable to keep a practice to themselves: Write. Write weekly.

 

Weekly conversations

You don’t have to be a writer, you don’t have to be an artist. You can just be YOU. That’s the thing. We often don’t have space or time to spend just discovering who we are, within. I promise I’ve seen this over and over again at Design Kompany. In a modern world where we are so achievement-driven, we forget to make space and time to look within. Frankly, it’s discouraged. It’s “artsy-fartsy,” and it’s “woo-woo.” But by gosh, it’s so darn important. You can’t ever know why you’re doing what you’re doing if you don’t know who you are. So this has been fantastic, and that’s why we’re kicking off this year officially NEXT WEEK. On 8/1/18, we are going to start THE MIRROR 2018. It is for those who are interested in making space to reflect, take stock. With others also responding to the same prompts, in forums, each week. What I learned from DK that I apply to THE MIRROR is one thing: the conversation is the most important part of any creative process.

‘What’s in it for me?’ Fair question. This is about creating intentional space for you to write, in a dedicated way, with other people doing the same thing in other parts of your city or the world. I will be here to hold you accountable, giving you a quarterly update with feedback. This is not for a grade or any kind of validation, but I will guide you to committing time to flex your creative writing (outside of work, your local writing club, or academia). Sharing in a nonjudgmental way with others is a huge part of this, and learning to be a little vulnerable along the way makes space for a different kind of writing which may be new for you, too.

Why this is different. This isn’t school, or work, and yet, even recess has a set time for little kids. Space to play. To discover. To look, ask, and try. Think of it like you might imagine kindergarten—anything is possible—except now you have experience to draw from too. Without a chance to make what’s in our hearts known (first to ourselves, and then to others), it doesn’t get heard. Sometimes our stories are painful—grief, loss, or hurt—but sometimes, behind those things, there is an enormous well of something we didn’t know was there. The subconscience speaks through journaling, telling us each about our deepers elves as we get better at practicing how to let it speak.

I’m a believer in flat, open circles, and am creating this space so as to invite lots of real stories from the heart to come onto the (digital) page, if that’s what happens, or at least illuminate for their authors exactly what it is that’s inside. There are far too many times when you can look into the mirror and wonder, “What if things had turned out differently? What if I had applied myself a little more?” It’s not easy in our modern, achievement-oriented culture to give ourselves this kind of permission. Space. To play, to look inward, to do the hard work that can unleash a world of new insight if we let it.

 

How it works

WHO. No more than 4 people per circle. International, mixed. Groups are assigned based on what people share in their applications: ie, ‘what do I want to get out of this.’ Sequenced prompts are designed based on those common interests, for each circle.

WHAT. A co-journaling weekly prompt arrives each Monday. On Sunday, we’ll craft the next week’s prompt, based on whatever responses come in on that day, or before. It’s this simple. It emerges, and it grows meaningful based on the things that tie together the overarching common themes. Very fun, very intriguing, and a kind of juxtaposition-meets-relational aesthetics weird and cool vibe pops up.

WHEN. Starts 8 January, 2018. Are you wondering how much time this will take? Don’t feel pressured to commit to yet another thing to do: this is meant to be a complement and fertilizer for whatever writing you have already planned to do.

FLOW. It’s okay not to have a clear idea up front about what it is you’ll write about, the creative process always begins with a fuzzy open slate. Then, through the work, through the practice, something becomes interesting to you. This something is the gem that all the work up until that moment of discovering it will have been for. Once you have this piece, the golden nugget, we will work together to write a piece that is all about that which the nugget has inspired in you. Write what you know, they say, but we can’t know what we know until we dig a little to discover this little thing that is so very important in the big work of writing our real stories, in our true, authentic voice. Everyone knows the difference between pieces that are written from the heart, and those that are just written. Editors like to say, ‘The writer works so the reader doesn’t have to.’ Over time, we may begin to see connections happen across the virtual space between guests. This happens. In really cool ways, people began to ask one another questions to go a little deeper on the ideas that are coming up. Making a space for it to bubble up and *happen*, that’s the framing for THE MIRROR. The whole thing: that’s it.

HOW TO JOIN. It starts with an application. Apply through this page: http://designkompany.com/apply. Selected candidates will be invited to register, and an orientation note will be shared from there. Warmly welcoming a few new voices today, and sending virtual hi-fives to returning guests, too.

 

8 January | Discover The Mirror

OUR NEXT ONLINE programme, The Mirror, begins on 8 January. Details are here.

What’s next for you?

If taking time to consider that very question thoughtfully sounds interesting to you (yes, we know it’s hard, of course it is, but is it interesting?…) then I invite you to apply for The Mirror. It is my favorite of our online workshops. I guess I like it because I’ve see transformations. So far, more than 50 people have taken part in our online programmes since we first opened spaces three years ago, all these would be online, for the kind of salon-style dialogue that: progresses; is carefully moderated; and is kept to a very self-selecting, small set of people. Real breakthroughs happen. I see it every year. You don’t have to be a pro at writing. Mistakes, drafts are welcome. It’s a journal, not a report. 😉 Since early 2014, DK has hosted The Mirror, this interactive and small-scale  experiment in journaling with others online. The framing question for its design was:

What if we could discover something together with those we didn’t know, but who were also exploring the same themes?

Great conversations emerged, resulting in a short eBook anthology, The Mirror. In recent days new conversations have inspired a fresh sequence of prompts, those that will, we hope, encourage people to break free of rigid thinking that ultimately confines us. For this I have CC to thank, in large part. (Glad I got to tell you.) If you are returning, there is more to share, on email, about the new things and a special group for alums.

The Mirror 2018 will circle in the new guests we are meeting in real life at our Atelier S P A C E programmes with our existing online community.

It’s fun, light.

And conversational.

Curious? Apply by 2 January. Apply here >

Atelier S P A C E || Cameron Highlands

LIVING IN or traveling through Malaysia? Join Design Kompany for a weekend getaway in Cameron Highlands. You’ll be part of an international traveling atelier to make zines in different cities and locations around the world. We will be in Cameron Highlands to make S P A C E || Cameron in late December, 2017. What’s involved, who will come, and how it will play out will be determined based on the people who show up. Google ‘open space technologies’ to see how open space unconferencing works. Learn more and ask us anything when you apply through the form, below. A short-course zinemaking popup. Max: 8.

Apply through this form:

 

S P A C E: The Art of Not Knowing

Converse. Connect. Discover. New people, new thinking, and new perspectives. Sharing in real life with people you have no idea just how much you might have in common with. It’s a new year, coming up, and this is a chance to take stock on where you’ve been so far, and chart a course for where you’re going. How do you do this when you don’t have everything ‘figured out?’ A prompt-led dialogue that will feature breakout sessions, small group work, and introspective reflection, all in one short afternoon, could very well be just the nudge you need to motivate yourself to follow your heart, and dream big. As seen in Hanoi (May-June 2017), ‘The Art of Not Knowing’ is a light and fun conversation salon that will make time and room for you to explore these exciting and deeply personal questions, but not in an intrusive way, and with a lot of lightheartedness along the way. See for yourself. See what making space can reveal to you about… you. Hashtag? #dada #surrealist #exploration #selfconcept

Just 6 spots. RSVP to confirm your attendance. RSVP through this form: